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Trade ties set to get better

New Delhi, Nov. 25: India is looking at growing its trade ties with Iran after Tehran’s nuclear deal with six nations.

Despite the sanctions of the US and the European Union, India had continued to buy crude from Iran.

“India throughout had a special relationship with Iran. We had maintained that a negotiated resolution, particularly on the nuclear issue, should be reached at. We are happy that there has been a breakthrough,” commerce minister Anand Sharma said here today.

He said “as far as economic engagement with Iran is concerned, it has been there. It has a huge potential to grow and we will be seriously taking all those measures which can improve our trade”.

The US and five other world powers struck an accord with Iran yesterday, agreeing to ease part of an economic stranglehold in exchange for steps to cap Tehran’s nuclear programme.

However, India will have to stick to its plans to cut crude oil imports from Iran by over 15 per cent to about 11 million tonnes in the year ending March 31, 2014, as the easing of the sanctions do not yet allow increased buying.

“Our understanding of the agreement is that the payment channel is clear. We have to sit down with the Iranians to discuss which bank or country the payments can be routed from,” an official said.

Since July 2011, India had paid 55 per cent of its purchase of Irani oil in euros through Ankara-based Halkbank. The remaining 45 per cent were remitted in rupees in accounts the Iranian oil companies opened in Calcutta-based Uco Bank.

The latest development could boost investment in the Persian Gulf region, with Indian firms likely to speed up the process of setting up urea and chemical plants in Iran.

A delegation may visit the country next month to discuss gas prices.

Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers, Gujarat Narmada Valley Ferilisers & Chemicals and Gujarat State Ferilisers & Chemicals Ltd plan to jointly set up urea and chemical plants in Iran with an estimated investment of Rs 7,500-8,000 crore.

Also, an Indian consortium led by ONGC Videsh Ltd could begin the process of signing the deal for the development of the Farzad-B gasfield.

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